I First Met Jeff In The Fall Of 1955.......

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I First Met Jeff In The Fall Of 1955.......
L-R: Vera and Bob Gabriel, Jeff, and Lydia Hathaway

"I first met Jeff in the fall of 1955.  Football season was starting, and I was a pledge.  One of the first rules for new pledges was when a visitor came through the door the first brother or pledge who saw him had to rush to the door with a hand extended to welcome the visitor and make them feel welcome.  We were meeting and getting to know alums who were coming back to watch games.  We got to know these men and learned from them.  What impressed was their interest in us – the lowly pledges."

The following input from Mo Ranc '61 really tells the story about Jeff and the meaning of brotherhood:

"I first met Jeff when I was a Pi Kapp pledge in the mid-fifties. Jeff and his college friends would arrive at the house for the Penn State football games on WEDNESDAY!  We learned from socializing with these "old guys" what brotherhood was all about, what it meant to them and what it would mean to us.  I am ever grateful to Jeff and the others before me for their friendship and guidance.  When 409 East Fairmount got into financial trouble, Jeff stepped in on an alumni committee to help solve the problems.  He was always committed to Pi Kappa Phi, its ideals and most of all its brotherhood.   He was unique and will be missed."

I First Met Jeff In The Fall Of 1955.......
L-R: Gabriel Pantle (Son of Bob), Elizabeth Pantle (Daughter), and Jeff. Note the bottle of very cheap Gin

I roomed with Stan Hopkins – Mo was our pledge roommate our junior year.  He’s so right about the spirit of brotherhood and how it was instilled in us by the older brothers and visiting alums who we got to know over time.

Many years passed during my time in the USAF.  I was able to get back for some football games in the late 1980’s and was able to meet up with Jeff at his legendary tailgates.  We moved back to Centre county in 2006 and we were able to see more of Jeff and Lydia along with other Pi Kaps in the area as well as those in town for various events on campus.

Jeff always had a twinkle in his eye, a warm welcome and the best hospitality.  Regardless of the scheduled kickoff time Jeff was first in line to get into the parking lot and set up his tailgate.  He loved warm cheap gin which he drank from an old bent metal cup.  He enjoyed his gin as he assembled all his gear.  He liked to laugh and say where else can you drink gin at nine o’clock in the morning and no one gives a darn.

I First Met Jeff In The Fall Of 1955.......
Pi Kap Brothers at the House

Jeff would plan his menus based on the kickoff time – menus were awesome and there was always plenty – there were always visiting Pi Kaps dropping by for a bite to eat, a cold Yuengling and good brotherhood.

You can see in one of the photos where Jeff was wearing blue cords embroidered with Nittany Lions – I recall the last time we tailgated the blue had fades with age, but not Jeff.  Some games he would don his white sport coat, the blue cords, a Penn State tie and the lapels of his jacket would be adorned with game-day buttons from former tailgates.

Jeff and Lydia frequently would lead a group to the Ale Hose for post-game drinks and dinner – one of Jeff’s favorite places. 

As Mo mentioned earlier, Jeff was there when there was some financial issues – yes, he gave a lot of his personal funds to help the house recover from the problems, but more important was his leadership and commitment as a brother.

Jeff’s wit, wisdom, friendship, and brotherhood will be missed by all who crossed paths with him.

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